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Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- Just when they thought the end was in sight, business owners on Freret Street learned the city plans to redo the streetscape project.

Poor engineering and crumbling brickwork are to blame, which isn't setting well with local businesses.

Along these eight blocks of Freret Street sit some of the best restaurants in the city. To add to the appeal, the city put in expensive brick corners with handicap-accessible ramps.

Kellie Grengs, a board member on the New Freret Merchants Association, said there is only one problem -- the construction was not done correctly, and now the city has to redo it all.

'You are only as good as your engineer, and unfortunately the engineer failed to give detailed drawings to the contractor that really provided the information they needed,' said Grengs.

This time, the city says the brick corners will be removed and replaced with concrete. However, the design will stay virtually the same, and that is exactly what residents don't want to see.

'The curbs are set way out in the street and creating a problem for drivers,' said Alex Hulbert. 'Sometimes I go through the gas station just to avoid making that turn into another car.'

Businesses along Freret Street are not happy about the city's new plan either.

'They are improving, so no one is really doubting that,' said Michael Casey the owner of Liberty Cheesesteaks. 'They are trying to do what is best for the city as a whole, but timing, I don't think, could have been worse.'

Restaurant owners Casey are heading into their peak season and Casey says more construction headaches will only hurt business.

'They don't want to go through six detours,' said Casey. 'They don't want to get ticketed for not knowing where to park and that disorganization is hard on business.'

Constant delays plagued businesses for months the first time around, but officials promise this time will be different, that the project will be done on time and will not interfere with the Freret Street Festival in April.

Yet, business owners remain skeptical.

'If they can't even start their project, how much faith can we have that they will get it done on time, let alone done right?' Casey said.

This story was developed in partnership with Uptown Messenger.

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